Does A Tribe Called Quest still have it? We Got It From Here, Thank you For Your Service answers that question with a resounding yes. It is truly hard to believe that a brand spanking new Tribe album has arrived. Many of us never thought this day would come, yet here it is. This album comes 18 years after the release of The Love Movement, which was thought to be their final album. Sadly, it also arrives on the heels of Phife Dawg’s untimely death. Tribe fans have no need to worry, because Phife is all over this album. He recorded his excellent verses before he passed away earlier this year. He may have left us, but his spirit lives on through the music.

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Longtime fans will rejoice in hearing Phife Dawg and Q-Tip trade rhymes again like its 1993. They aren’t alone either, Consequence and Busta Rhymes come along for the ride for a complete Tribe reunion. These voices are warmly welcomed, but they are also quite familiar to us. That’s why one of the most outstanding additions to We Got It From Here, Thank you For Your Service is the fact that Jarobi finally graces the microphone. Jarobi has largely been unheard from since Tribes debut album. He did put out an album with Dres (Black Sheep) to form the group called Evitan, their album was called The Speed of Life and was released back in 2012. For many though, this will be the first time they hear him rhyme. Listening to him trade bars alongside his fellow tribesmen is such a treat. He brings an entirely new and refreshing voice to the classic Tribe formula. He is just as witty and sharp as his brethren and it is hugely welcomed here. It makes me wonder what his lost verses from The Low End Theory would have sounded like.
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What stands out about this record is the group mentality that is on full display. Plenty of Hip-hop albums are released, but few of them are recorded like this one. The recording of this album was all done in Q-Tips personal studio, he requested that everyone physically came in and worked on it. The benefit of doing the album this way is that the listener can feel the group’s energy as the album progresses. You really hear Tip and Phife’s chemistry as they play off one another. It allows for more creative songs and word play between the emcees. Because they were actually in the studio together and pushed one another to write in a competitive way. This competitive environment simply does not exist when emailing verses in. Recording We Got It From Here, Thank you For Your Service this way was an excellent decision. Each song oozes cohesiveness, unity, and warmth that only comes when folks get together in a room and make music.

 

So what about the music? The production from Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammed is top notch, and at times is somewhat experiemental. As producers alone, these two men are legends in their field. Each song is carefully made with love and respect towards their legacy. There are plenty of influences ranging from Boom bap, Jazz, Rock, and more. The trademark Tribe sound is here, but it has grown and evolved along with its members. That signature Tribe sound can be heard in the rhymes too. There is something so infectious about hearing Q-Tip and Phife Dawg trade off lyrics with their tribesmen. Nobody can question the chemistry and brotherly love between Tip, Phife, Jarobi, Consequence, and Busta Rhymes. When it comes to the lyrics, they all show tremendous growth while remaining true to their roots and individual styles. Q-Tip still has a nasally smooth delivery. Phife is still packing his tough and witty lyrics that are packed with sports references. Consequence has his clear and concise methodical style on full display. Last but certainly not least, Busta Rhymes brought out the dragon with his quick delivery and his thundering vocals. Lyrically, this is a totally complete package from these Hip-hop luminaries.
The features are few but extremely meaningful. A Tribe Called Quest could have enlisted anyone in Hip-hop to come through and drop a verse. But they didn’t do that. Instead, they chose artists that either stand on equal footing as them or have been heavily influenced by them. The presence of Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, and Kendrick Lamar are especially felt. Each emcee delivers creative, thought provoking, and powerful verses. The Hip-hop world will surely be giddy as they listen to Andre 3000 and Q-Tip spit frantic verses on “Kids”. Talib Kweli delivers a tough and gritty verse on the lack of justice in America on “The Killing Season”. Lastly, Kendrick Lamar unleashes a flurry of rhymes about our troubled nation on “Conrad Tokyo”. These three had huge expectations to meet by being featured on a Tribe album and they absolutely crushed it.
If a theme exists on We Got It From Here, Thank you For Your Service, it is surely one of celebration. The loss of Phife Dawg is also felt, and in many ways this record is a celebration of his life. In fact, the group has a tribute to his life on the song “Lost Somebody”, which is a truly touching and heart warming moment on the record. The members of the group are acutely aware of their legacy. These elements drive the album and they shine though the music. Careful attention was placed on making an album that will fit right alongside their outstanding catalog. The album is a firm reminder of the incredible music that A Tribe Called Quest has made and their impact on Hip-hop culture. But it also serves as a fitting sendoff for one of the most beloved groups of all time. This is them walking into the sunset and having their storybook ending. One final journey through sound with the mighty Tribe.
My personal favorite tracks on We Got It From Here, Thank you For Your Service are “The Space Program”, “Whateva Will Be”, “Dis Generation”, “Mobius”, “Black Spasmodic” “Movin Backwards”, and “The Donald”.

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  • Jos

    Forever a ATCQ fan! Well written 👏🏼
    R.I.P Phife